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Monday 10 August, 2020

Tertiary students invited to apply for business accelerator programme

Minister of Labour and Small Enterprise Development Jennifer Baptiste Primus (centre), the Ministry’s acting Permanent Secretary Natalie Willis (2nd from right) and acting Deputy Permanent Secretary Kevar Cummings-Williams (extreme left), along with NEDCO Chairman Clarry Benn (2nd from left) and NEDCO Chief Executive Officer Albert Chow (extreme right).

Minister of Labour and Small Enterprise Development Jennifer Baptiste Primus (centre), the Ministry’s acting Permanent Secretary Natalie Willis (2nd from right) and acting Deputy Permanent Secretary Kevar Cummings-Williams (extreme left), along with NEDCO Chairman Clarry Benn (2nd from left) and NEDCO Chief Executive Officer Albert Chow (extreme right).

The National Entrepreneurship Development Company Limited (NEDCO) has issued a call for tertiary education students to apply to its new Business Accelerator Programme. 

The course will offer a set of entrepreneurial development services to facilitate the successful commercialization of startup companies and will be run in partnership with universities and colleges across Trinidad and Tobago. 

The programme is open to students enrolled at tertiary level schools who have an existing startup or is interested in starting a new business. 

Speaking at the launch of the programme at NEDCO's Port-of-Spain head office, Chairman Clarry Benn, said the initiative is a joint effort incorporating mentorship with financing. 

“To ensure that there are adequate resources to satisfy the demand for our business accelerator services at the required level and quality needed, we will be collaborating with several partners to provide an integrated suite of services. In the first instance this will be tertiary level education institutions.  The services to be offered include training; coaching; mentorship; access to networks; and very importantly, funding,” he stated.

In addition to selecting the participants or protégés, the schools will assist with the provision of facilities for product development; research; laboratories; analytics; prototyping; and manufacturing.

It's important to note that applicants can be from any sector and do not need to have an existing business.  All that is required is an idea and the desire to bring that idea to successful commercialization. The programme’s mentees will be evaluated on an individual basis to determine their readiness, aptitude and capacity to operate their proposed business ventures, as well as to identify their strengths, weaknesses, training and development needs. 

Meanwhile, Benn further explained that learning will be a big part of the Business Accelerator which will develop a more innovative and enterprising breed of entrepreneurs, with particular focus on young persons. 

“We will bring an infusion of fresh entrepreneurial thinking and our Business Accelerator protégés will be equipped with the tools to tackle challenges head-on.  Together, we will break down the silos that stymie rapid innovation.  We are confident of our Business Accelerator’s success and the long-term contribution it will make to the overall economic and entrepreneurial landscape of Trinidad and Tobago, and by extension, the Caribbean.” Benn said.

Minister of Labour and Small Enterprise Development, Jennifer Baptiste-Primus, in her feature address, assured that the Government remains committed to the ongoing development of the business sector including micro and small enterprises (MSEs), as well as to the diversification of the local economy.

“The role of the MSE sector is, of course, critical to this diversification process and we fully recognize the need to ensure that the appropriate enabling environment is in place to foster the growth and sustainability of these enterprises.  This initiative is indeed very timely and relevant.” 

Several studies indicate that between 70 to 85 percent of all business activity in the Caribbean, including Trinidad and Tobago, is conducted by enterprises employing less than 25 persons.

“While their individual activity levels may be comparatively small, we note their collective impact on the economy and the society as a whole.  MSEs create wealth by providing sources of income for their owners, their workers and their families. Increase in incomes should lead to better standards of living and quality of life for all concerned.”

Baptiste-Primus also shared that NEDCO’s strategic operations are closely aligned with the Labour Ministry’s Strategic Plan – the National Development Strategy of Trinidad and Tobago 2016 -2030 and the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals 2030.

NEDCO Chief Executive Officer, Albert Chow, recalled that in June 2018, NEDCO condensed its 11 branches and repositioned itself to bring forth a rebranded company. 

“The aim of this change is to build on NEDCO’s processes thereby increasing efficiency, enhancing competitive advantage, achieving higher levels of synergy and improving company value.  Since inception this company’s suite of products and services included development loans, training and business advisory. We have now expanded the range to include this Business Accelerator Programme.  I share the confidence of our chairman, board of directors, management and staff that NEDCO is adequately prepared to implement and successfully operate this Business Accelerator programme.”

The NEDCO Business Accelerator Programme will begin in January and run for 12 months with the option to extend for up to 18 months.  Interested students should contact their university or college or any NEDCO office for further information and to apply.

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